One of the biggest misconceptions of aqua-fit (water aerobics) is that because it happens in water the participants are safe from injury. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Like any other exercise it is important to warm up and stretch and cool down and stretch. But it doesn't stop there. You need to take care of yourself in between too.
One of the most common injuries while participating in aqua-fit is damage to the Achilles tendon -- which is attached from the heel to calf muscle. The damage occurs from bouncing and over extending the Achilles tendons; especially for plus size bodies (or those who have had an ankle injury in the past making them more prone to further or related injuries in or surrounding the same area).
Unlike most sports that have the protection of shoes, aqua-fit has no protection for your feet and ankles. You can wear a water shoe but there is barely any support. They are designed to protect the bottom of the feet from bacteria and cuts.
So how do you protect your tendons?
- To begin with, make sure you are taking classes run by a certified instructor.
- If you have a previous ankle injury you should let your instructor know.
- Don't assume because you're in the water the activity you are performing will have no impact on your joints.
- If a movement hurts, stop.
- Don't be afraid to ask for an alternate exercise.
- Don't overextend your tendons.
- Avoid jumping motions in the shallow end.
- Don't assume any discomfort in your tendons after exercise is normal. If your tendons hurt then they have probably been injured. See your doctor or sport injury professional.
Aqua-fit is a fun activity but like any other sport it is important to take precautions and pay attention to what your body tells you. An ankle injury can cause long term discomfort -- protect your body from the ground up.